2021 NBA Draft Prospects: Forwards

by Josh Cohen

Here are 10 of the most intriguing forwards in the 2021 NBA Draft. They are listed in alphabetical order by their last name.

Marcus Bagley, Arizona State

  • A 6-foot-8 versatile forward active on both ends. He has smooth shooting mechanics and is an exceptional rebounder at his position. Robert Covington is a player he is similar to.

  • Shot selection was a problem at Arizona State, where he made just 38.7 percent of his attempts overall during his freshman season.

  • The younger brother of Sacramento Kings forward Marvin Bagley III. The two were teammates at Sierra Canyon High School when Marvin was a senior and Marcus was a freshman.

Scottie Barnes, Florida State

  • A 6-foot-9, 227-pounder with remarkable court vision and instincts who led the Seminoles in assists as a freshman.

  • Also a uniquely talented defender in that he can effectively guard multiple positions and even hang with opposing ball handlers in a full court press.

  • Played at three different Florida high schools before enrolling at Florida State. He started at Cardinal Newman in West Palm Beach, then transferred to NSU University School in Fort Lauderdale and finished up at Montverde Academy, where he played alongside fellow 2021 NBA Draft prospects Cade Cunningham and Moses Moody.

Greg Brown, Texas

  • One of the most athletic, powerful and explosive players in this draft who had several jaw-dropping dunks during his one season at Texas.

  • Unpolished on offense, lacking fluidity and smoothness, but capable on defense of locking up opponents using his foot speed, athleticism and strength.

  • Named Texas Mr. Basketball and the Texas Gatorade Player of the Year after leading Vandergrift High School in Austin to a district title.

Usman Garuba, Spain

  • While limited offensively - lacking shooting range and ball handling skills - he wreaks havoc on the defensive end with his lateral quickness, toughness, mobility and high energy.

  • One of this draft class’ best pick-and-roll defenders due to his ability to switch onto speedsters in pick-and-roll and stay between his opponent and the basket. Some of his scoring originates from steals that allow him to get out into the open floor. Also has impeccable timing when rising to block or alter a shot near the hoop.

  • Has played for Real Madrid the last few seasons alongside several former NBA players, including Rudy Fernandez, Anthony Randolph and Edy Tavares.

Jalen Johnson, Duke

  • An exceptionally good passer and a coordinated athlete at his size – 6-foot-9, 220 pounds with a 6’11 wingspan – who thrives in transition.

  • Had an incredible college debut with 19 points on a perfect 8-of-8 shooting to go along with 19 rebounds, five assists and four blocks against Coppin State.

  • Only appeared in 13 games at Duke before deciding to walk away from college to prepare for the NBA Draft.

Johnny Juzang, UCLA

  • One of the 2021 NCAA Tournament’s top performers. He scored over 20 points in four of UCLA’s six games, including going for 29 against Gonzaga in the Final Four.

  • Excels shooting on the move. Has a really quick release and does an excellent job staying balanced after the catch.

  • Transferred after his freshman season from Kentucky to UCLA, where he was named to the Pac-12 All-Second Team this past season.

Jonathan Kuminga, G League Ignite

  • A raw but dynamic two-way talent with unlimited potential because of his physical profile, athleticism, body control, hang time and defensive instincts.

  • The combination of having a 6-foot-11 wingspan and fast-moving feet makes him someone that NBA coaches can plug into a variety of roles in today’s NBA.

  • From the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he moved to the U.S. at the age of 16 to play high school basketball.

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Villanova

  • A strong on-ball defender with great technique and size at 6-foot-9, 230 pounds.

  • A poor 3-point shooter, but very confident on his drives to the basket and able to finish through contact.

  • Shared the Big East Player of the Year Award in 2020-21 with Villanova teammate Collin Gillespie and Seton Hall’s Sandro Mamukelashvili.

Franz Wagner, Michigan

  • A dynamic playmaker and versatile defender at 6-foot-9, 220 pounds. He could be this draft’s basketball unicorn.

  • Superb vision and instincts on offense, especially out of pick-and-roll, and a unique defender in that he guards the paint and the perimeter equally well.

  • The younger brother of NBA player Moritz Wagner, who also attended the University of Michigan.

Ziaire Williams, Stanford

  • A 6-foot-8 versatile forward with a 6’10-plus wingspan possessing excellent shooting mechanics despite being inefficient in college (37.4 percent overall, 29.1 percent from 3-point range).

  • Weighing just 186 pounds, he lacks strength, but the combination of his quick first step and length gives him an advantage against most wing defenders.

  • The highest-ranked recruit to ever attend Stanford.
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